When we shop, we often bring our valuables, which total hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars, with us.
Cell phones, wallets, purses and credit cards represent valuable commodities. They can be stolen to score sweet profits. And throughout our community, that is happening right now.
On Aug. 8, Suffolk County Police Department 4th Precinct Inspector David Regina informed the Smithtown Town Board of a pernicious crime happening across Suffolk County retail spaces.
“Criminals and thieves take the opportunity when someone is shopping at Costco or any of these other stores, and they walk by an unsuspecting victim’s shopping cart,” he said. “What they’ll do is they’ll just take out the credit cards or the wallet.”
A criminal can be out the door with our credit cards in the few seconds we may step away from our shopping carts.
At first, victims of this kind of theft do not know they have been victimized. In the time it can take for victims to discover they were robbed and cancel their accounts, the damage has already been done. For law enforcement, Regina noted, this kind of theft is “a very hard crime to target.”
Fortunately, we can all take some simple steps to protect our possessions. We should always keep our valuables in sight and within reach when we shop.
We also encourage our readers to shop lightly, leaving their possessions inside their locked vehicles or — even better — leaving their valuables at home.
If one shops with a handbag or purse, ensure these bags have secure closures. For purse thieves, an open handbag in a public space invites theft.
At TBR News Media, we helped to pioneer the Neighborhood Watch program in Suffolk County. We now advocate for a similar crime watch program for retail centers. As the adage goes, “If you see something, say something.”
Tell a store manager or similar authority about the nefarious activities you witness. Failure to report these incidents of purse theft signals to criminals our tacit approval of these behaviors, incentivizing recidivism. If we wish to see larcenies begin to drop, we must do our part.
Aware of the risks, we can and should shop without fear. Please take care to ensure that shopping can be a safe experience.